So I did. I can't express to you the joy I get from being able to share a bit of the satisfaction I get from biking with her. She got a heaping pile of stuffed Manicotti. No, that's not a euphemism for something naughty. For those not fortunate enough to grow up around Italian-Americans, Manicotti is like mutant ziti, 1" diameter pipe-shaped pasta hunks, hollow and about 6" long. You can stuff 'em with a lot of good things and although it took a bit of cooking, I did it for her. I was really proud. (If you must know, browned ground beef and ground up Italian sausage, fresh basil and oregano, sauteed onions, roasted garlic, various other spices, all mixed together into a paste in ricotta and eggs, smothered in a tomato-ey red sauce, topped with fresh Mozarella and Pecorino Romano and baked. Mmmmmm... )
Sainted Wife Mandy explained over dinner that around 50 miles, she felt really, really down, she was cold, soaked through, and an organizer mentioned to her that a late route change had added seven or eight miles to the Metric course. As she put it, "I was so upset... but I wasn't going to let this thing beat me, and it occurred to me that if I just kept turning the pedals I could keep going."
I am really proud of her. That's a point I get to occasionally, and I work through it the exact same way. It is a point of pride to me that I gut things out, and she is still basking in the glow of having done so. That, and basking in the warmth of the cozy blankets on the sofa. It was the longest ride she's ever done by about 25 miles, and the conditions made it somewhat hellish. I've never seen her that tired; she slept probably 14 hours after she got home. Good for her.
For her, this ride seems to have paralelled the moment in "The Blues Brothers" where Jake and Elwood were at the Church of the Triple Rock, and they suddenly "saw the light." I was the first one to see the light in this family... now she sees it too. I will paraphrase:
Jim: The bike... the bike...She has a new bit of confidence about her riding and is looking forward to doing more long rides come spring, including some English centuries. There is some gear she wants to help her ride more in adverse weather - leg warmers and what not, a nice new helmet, maybe an FSA Wing handlebar and/or an Ultegra gruppo for her bike...
Reverend Cleophus James: DO YOU SEE THE LIGHT?
Jim: THE BIKE!
Reverend Cleophus James: DO YOU SEE THE BIKE?
Mandy: What bike?
Reverend Cleophus James: HAVE YOU SEEEEN THE BIKE?
Mandy: YES! YES! JESUS H. TAP-DANCING CHRIST... I HAVE SEEN THE BIKE!
Needless to say, this bodes well for my riding. It's easier to balance two riding schedules, than it is to indulge in one. So I've gotten out for rides the last two days, and there's been no problem. She's resting, and no doubt will want to ride some this next weekend... but we'll work it out. Maybe I can even hire a babysitter and we can go ride together a bit.
I am well pleased.
Really, there's only one thing to do.
Buy a cowbell.
My cross schedule is buggered until early November. Barring a crack binge or other lunacy-inducing event between now and next Sunday, I won't be doing Iron Cross, though I'd really love to. It looks sick. The next weekend is Assault on the C&O Canal, Chapter II: The Soggy Mountain Boys' Revenge. After that I'm in a wedding in Raleigh. Then it's November. Maaaan. So I'm only going to get a 6 week cross season, and I'm determined to enjoy it to the fullest. That can mean only one thing.
That means hitting up the Red Hill General Store for their big ol' Kin-tucky 0-K. It sounds like this: ding-a-ling-a-ling... I like the lower tone and dull clangor this puppy puts out. I don't like the higher pitched bells very much. Plus this bad boy is huge, something like seven inches tall. When I'm not racing in my sadly truncated 'cross season, I want to be cheering like a lunatic and drinking Belgian beer and grinning like a fool. The cowbells seem to help with that.
Oh, one other thing. We spent an hour tonight tuning up Mandy's "new" pedals. They are an old set of Shimano 505s, some crappy SPD's.
Yeah, that's right. She just went clipless.